If there’s one television show that has truly stood the test of time, it’s “Friends.” The beloved sitcom that premiered in 1994 and ended in 2004 has been off the air for years, but that doesn’t mean fans and viewers have become any less dedicated. If anything, people love the show even more now than they did back then. There’s a sense of nostalgia with “Friends,” and especially with the beloved main characters on the series.
And when it comes to the characters on “Friends,” there might be no one as memorable as Ross Geller and Rachel Green. The two lovers had quite the rollercoaster of a relationship that carried the entire series through it’s 10-season run. Seriously, the will-they-won’t-they element of Ross and Rachel’s relationship was a pivotal plot point for “Friends,” but no matter how many times you might have watched the series, their relationship might still perplex you. So, since you might need a refresher, here’s Ross and Rachel’s “Friends” relationship timeline finally explained.
Ross and Rachel knew each other in high school
While die-hard “Friends” fans will know that Ross and Rachel have a long history, it can be hard to remember exactly when they first met. And it’s actually never really shown when Ross and Rachel met for the first time, but it is established that they knew each other in high school. And in flashbacks and old video tapes, it’s when Rachel is in high school and Ross has started college that they’re first seen together.
In the Season 2 episode “The One With The Prom Video,” a video from Rachel and Monica getting ready for prom together surfaces and the group watches it together. In the video, Ross has already graduated, but when Rachel’s date doesn’t show up on time, he gets ready to escort her to prom so she won’t have to go alone.
It’s clear that Ross already had developed feelings for Rachel at that point, but she didn’t return those feelings just yet. Ross and Rachel also reunited during Thanksgiving that year, which was revealed in a flashback episode, but when they exactly first met is questionable. Still, it’s obvious Ross and Rachel go way back.
They were reacquainted when Rachel ran away from her wedding
During the premiere of “Friends,” you can see Rachel and Ross get reacquainted. In “The One Where Monica Gets a Roommate,” Rachel has just fled her wedding; she then meets up with her old high school friend, Monica Geller, at the coffee shop where she is hanging out with her friends. At that point, once Ross and Rachel say hi to each other, it’s super clear that Ross has had a crush on her for some time.
Though “Friends” had just started at that point, you later learn that Ross’ feelings for Rachel are nothing new, but now that he’s seen her again, he is reminded of them. However, at that point, Ross’ divorce from his wife Carol is still fresh, and Rachel is obviously recovering from her broken-off engagement. So, it’s only natural that Ross wouldn’t immediately try to make a move.
Later in the episode, Ross works up the courage to tell Rachel that he had a crush on her in high school, which she admitted she knew about. Then, Ross actually asks Rachel if she would ever consider going out with him, to which she replies that she would.
Ross still has feelings for Rachel, but they weren't reciprocated
Before Ross can ever really make a move on Rachel on “Friends,” she starts to see someone that causes Ross a ton of distress. In fact, Rachel ends up having a passionate relationship with one of their neighbors, Paolo. Whether it’s his luscious hair, Italian accent, or charming demeanor, she falls pretty hard. Naturally, Ross is obviously upset at the fact that not only is Rachel dating someone that wasn’t him, but that she was with someone he deemed a “Crap-Weasel.”
Rachel and Paolo aren’t together for very long, and he ends up hurting her pretty badly when he makes a pass at Phoebe during a massage. Still, the Paolo chapter in Rachel’s life wasn’t over and she ended up hooking up with him again while Ross was dating Julie and Rachel had realized her feelings towards him. Paolo definitely wasn’t the love of Rachel’s life, but he did come between her and Ross.
Then Rachel returned the feelings, but Ross had moved on
For a good long while on the first season of “Friends,” Ross’ feelings towards Rachel go unnoticed by her. But then in the season finale, “The One Where Rachel Finds Out,” it’s Rachel’s birthday, and Ross has to go to China for a work trip. Before he leaves, though, Ross leaves behind a birthday gift for Rachel, which she is so pleased to open. Once Rachel discovers Ross bought her an expensive vintage pin they saw together ages ago, she is totally blown away by his generosity.
But of course, Chandler Bing was right there to clue her in on the meaning of the gift. “Remember back in college when he fell in love with Carol and bought her that ridiculously expensive crystal duck?” Chandler says without thinking. At that point, Rachel realizes that Ross bought her the pin because he was in love with her. It takes her some time, but by the time Ross returns from China, Rachel realizes she loves him, too. However, Ross returns with a new girlfriend, Julie, having moved on from his feelings towards Rachel. So, Rachel suffers in silence for a few episodes while Ross and Julie flaunt their relationship.
Ross' relationship with Julie put him in a tough spot
On the “Friends” Season 2 episode “The One Where Ross Finds Out,” Rachel lets it slip that she has feelings for Ross. Well, sort of. While on a blind date, Rachel has a little too much to drink and decides that she needs closure from her feelings towards Ross. So, she calls him and leaves a voicemail telling him that she is over him. However, by the next morning, Rachel had forgotten about her drunken blunder until Ross used her phone to check his messages. Then, Rachel tries to stop him but can’t before he hears it. “You’re over me?” he asks. “When were you ever under me?” Then, Rachel admits her feelings towards Ross, and he’s in a complicated situation as he’s still dating Julie.
Later in the episode, Ross shows up and argues with Rachel about her feelings towards him coming out at a very inconvenient time. But in that same scene, the two can’t deny their feelings and share their first kiss. Eventually, Ross decides to break up with Julie for Rachel, and the two finally get together after so many ups and downs. But it’s only a short matter of time before Ross screws things up.
Rachel finds out about Ross' pros/cons list and gets angry
Wondering just how Ross could screw up his relationship with Rachel so quickly on “Friends” after finally getting his dream girl? Well, it starts before Ross actually decided to break things off with Julie, when he couldn’t decide what to do. So, Ross along with Chandler and Joey made a pro-con list about Rachel and Julie. As practical as this might sound, it obviously didn’t sit right with Rachel when she found the list and saw things like “Chubby ankles” and “just a waitress” on her “con” list. Naturally, Rachel is furious and even though Ross had ended things with Julie, she isn’t ready to leap into his arms.
It isn’t until six episodes later in “The One With The Prom Video,” that Rachel watches how much Ross loved her so many years ago, and winds up forgiving him. In fact, the scene is so iconic for a reason. After the video ends, Rachel gets up, walks over to Ross and immediately gives him the most passionate kiss ever. Finally, the pair can be together without any obstacles. Well, for now.
But then Ross got jealous and he and Rachel ended up "on a break"
So, Ross and Rachel’s relationship was finally ready to take off after all their struggles, almosts, and what-ifs, and the pair was together for a good long while on “Friends.” They dated, they got intimate, went to weddings and events together, and became a full-fledged, totally in-love couple. Then, Rachel quit her job at the coffee house to pursue fashion, and when she lands a job at Bloomingdales due to a kind stranger she meets at a restaurant, Mark, Ross starts to get pretty jealous. Not only is Ross jealous of Mark in general, but as Rachel’s job becomes more demanding, he gets jealous of that as well.
This obviously doesn’t sit well with Rachel, who worked very hard to build her career from the ground-up and wants nothing more than to be respected and successful. So, Ross and Rachel started fighting and bickering a lot more over time, and in “The One Where Ross and Rachel Take a Break,” it eventually escalated into a big fight in which they decided to take a break. Obviously, that break would go on to mean different things to both of them, but it’s clear they weren’t seeing eye to eye for a while.
Ross betrayed Rachel with another woman
The exact same night that Ross and Rachel have their big blow-up fight in Season 3 of “Friends,” Ross betrays Rachel in a way that no one could have seen coming. While Rachel stays home, thinking and obsessing over their fight, her coworker Mark comes to cheer her up. It’s perfectly innocent, but when Ross calls and hears Mark over the phone, he assumes the worst. Moreover, he takes it as an invitation to cheat on Rachel, and hooks up with the girl from their local copy shop. The next morning, they both realize how stupid they’ve been and Rachel heads over to Ross’ to make up.
However, Rachel eventually finds out that he had cheated on her, and that the girl from the copy shop was actually still in Ross’ apartment while she was there apologizing to him. Naturally, this leads to the couple’s biggest fight to date when Rachel ends the relationship and tells Ross that he is a “totally different person” to her now that he betrayed her. It’s a heartbreaking scene, because Rachel’s love for Ross is still evident, but she can’t move on so quickly from his being with another woman.
Ross and Rachel briefly got back together, then ended things again
On the “Friends” Season 3 finale, “The One at the Beach,” Rachel reveals that she still has feelings for Ross, despite the presence of his girlfriend, Bonnie. After the two share a kiss and Ross lets Bonnie down and sends her home, Rachel presents Ross with a letter she wrote that she needs him to read and agree to before she can take him back. Rachel wrote that she needed Ross to admit he ruined their relationship. But Ross didn’t read the whole letter, and fell asleep instead.
After the two got back together and were cuddling in bed, Ross revealed that he didn’t agree he was the only one at fault for their relationship ending. Additionally, he told Rachel he only agreed to it because he hadn’t read the letter, which he claimed was too long. The two got into a huge fight, which ended their relationship soon after it began again — and gave “Friends” fans the iconic line from Rachel yelling after Ross after he stormed off, that “It’s not that common, it doesn’t happen to every guy, and it is a big deal!” Basically, this chapter in their relationship was short, not sweet, and pretty entertaining to watch.
Ross falls in love with someone new, but betrays her for Rachel … sort of
After Ross and Rachel called it quits again on “Friends,” Ross soon fell in love with Emily, the niece of Rachel’s boss who was visiting from England. The two had a long-distance relationship that started with them falling head-over-heels for each other. Then they got engaged, and planned a wedding just a month ahead of time. While everyone but Phoebe (because she was pregnant) headed to the wedding in London, Rachel initially stayed behind. That is, until Phoebe helped her realize she was in love with Ross and she went to tell him.
In the Season 4 finale, “The One With Ross’ Wedding: Part 2,” Rachel makes it to Ross and Emily’s wedding in time for the ceremony, but after Ross spots her, his head is clearly scrambled. While saying his vows, Ross has a major mess up when he states, “I Ross take thee Rachel,” instead of Emily, the woman in front of him who he is supposed to be pledging the rest of his life to. Obviously, this effectively ended their relationship as Ross somewhat betrayed Emily for Rachel. But, because Ross was in love with Emily, the pair didn’t get together after the failed wedding.
Rachel admits her feelings for Ross once again
Despite Ross and Emily’s wedding ending with Emily running away and Ross not being able to get in touch with her, Rachel didn’t immediately tell Ross about her feelings. It was probably for the best, as Ross was understandably stressed out about Emily, considering the two were technically married at that point.
However, Rachel eventually works up the courage to tell Ross that she still loves him, saying point-blank, “I’m still in love with you, Ross.” Ross takes a minute to absorb that information and tells Rachel, “I’m not sure what to do with that information.” At that point, Rachel cracks up because she realizes how ridiculous it is that she’s telling him about such deep feelings while he’s married and going through a tough time. At the end of the conversation, the two resolve that nothing can happen between them at that point, but Ross admits it was nice to hear from Rachel.
Ross and Rachel end up married, then divorced
After Rachel reveals her feelings towards Ross in Season 5, the two steer clear of each other romantically for a while. During that time, the main romance on the series is between Chandler and Monica, who were in a secret relationship for a while before everyone found out. After the two came forward with their relationship, they took a group trip to Las Vegas to celebrate their anniversary. On that trip, Ross and Rachel came a little later for work reasons, and because Ross drew a mustache on Rachel’s face in permanent marker on the plane ride, hid out in the hotel room drinking for quite a while.
After they got super drunk, Ross and Rachel ended up heading to a chapel and getting married. They don’t realize what they did until the next morning at brunch, and immediately resolve to get their union annulled. Of course, Ross is hesitant as this will make three failed marriages for him, and he ends up waiting so long that they have to get a divorce. Their marriage wasn’t romantic in the slightest, but it does show just how much those two are drawn to each other.
Ross and Rachel hook up and make a baby
In the Season 7 finale, “The One With Chandler and Monica’s Wedding: Part 2,” it’s revealed that Rachel is pregnant. But, it isn’t until the Season 8 episode, “The One with the Red Sweater,” that everyone learns Ross is the father. After, in “The One Where Rachel Tells…” Ross is stunned to learn that Rachel is pregnant and definitely takes some time to adjust to the news. He is so shocked, in fact, that Rachel ends up just sitting quietly for a long time while he absorbs the fact that he’s going to be a father again.
Eventually, Ross and Rachel get used to the idea of having a baby together despite not actually being together in a romantic relationship. When their daughter, Emma, is born, though, Ross actually considers pursuing a more romantic relationship with Rachel since the two shared a moment before she went into labor. It ends up not working out, because Rachel thought she accepted a proposal from Joey after the chaos and emotional and physical journey of delivering a baby. This upset Ross and the two decided to just focus on coparenting.
Ross and Rachel both date other people after their daughter is born
As Ross and Rachel decided to keep their relationship more platonic for the sake of their daughter, it’s only natural that they would both go on to date other people for a while. Despite their strong connection and shared love for Emma, they both fell for other people. For one, on a trip to Barbados, Ross’ feelings towards Joey’s girlfriend, Charlie, come out. And so do Rachel’s feelings for Joey.
Unsurprisingly, they switch. When Joey sees Ross kissing his ex-girlfriend Charlie, he decides that he can, in fact, go for it with Rachel. So, the two kiss and eventually get together. While both Joey and Rachel are highly aware of the fact that Ross will find their relationship unsettling, they still let him know, and he’s definitely shocked. In fact, when Joey and Rachel have dinner with Ross and Charlie, Ross gets so drunk that he burns his hands on a hot plate of fajitas, and Joey has to stay with him to make sure he’s OK. Basically, that ruins Rachel and Joey’s relationship, and Ross’ relationship with Charlie goes downhill when she leaves him for her ex-boyfriend. Still, the pair really drifted after Emma was born.
But naturally, Ross and Rachel end up together
The “Friends” series finale, “The Last One,” was seriously emotionally charged, to say the least. While Chandler and Monica have welcomed their children, twins Jack and Erica, Rachel is headed off to Paris, France for an exciting new work opportunity. It’s bittersweet, as Rachel has landed her dream job, but is leaving behind all her friends and family, and she and Ross will have to co-parent Emma from a distance. But, Ross decides he needs to tell Rachel he loves her and not to go. After a failed attempt to stop Rachel at the airport, Ross heads home to listen to a message on his answering machine.
Ross freaks out, wondering whether or not she was able to get off the plane when Rachel shows up at his door and says some of the show’s most iconic words: “I got off the plane.” The two share a passionate embrace and declare their love for each other. At one point, Ross jokes that “This is it. Unless we’re on a break,” that obviously doesn’t go over well with Rachel. Still, the two are clearly dedicated towards each other, and this moment cemented the future of their relationship. Well, fans can hope.
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